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SWEETLY ye murmured, ye bells of Bilbao,
When chanting your vespers o'er mountain and stream,
And whispered "good night" to them, bells of Bilbao,
Midst the purple and gold of the sun's setting gleam.
And glad were your voices, ye bells of Bilbao,
That echoed the matins of people and priest;
Full clear was your chorus, ye bells of Bilbao,
To hail the glad sun as he rose in the east.
Two spirits possessed ye, ye bells of Bilbao,
An angel the one and the other a fiend;
The last is your master now, bells of Bilbao,
For red was the bosom on which ye were weaned.
Hell's furnace conceived ye, ye bells of Bilbao,
And molten the milk that was fed you of old.
Of copper and brass are ye, bells of Bilbao,
Though burnished withouten with silver and gold.
Baptized with the cross were ye, bells of Bilbao;
Ye pealed forth in answer the praises of God.
Now blood is your baptism, bells of Bilbao,
And ye belch forth your prayers to a terrible lord.
Ye chanted high mass once, ye bells of Bilbao,
And sweet was the incense that hung on your breath.
Ye breathe now but terror, ye bells of Bilbao,
And chant the high masses of Hell and of Death.
Ye carolled on Christmas once, bells of Bilbao,
And welcomed the Christ to his kingdom of earth.
Now clang out to carnage, ye bells of Bilbao,
And welcome your prince with your horrible mirth.
O, sad is your destiny, bells of Bilbao,
Once angels of heaven, now fallen from grace;
For hell hath engulfed ye, ye bells of Bilbao,
The blessing is turned to a curse on your face.
*In the Carlist revolution the churches of the Spanish provinces were called upon to contribute their bells for the founding of cannon. The fate of the melodious chimes of Bilbao, famous even in that country of bells, is the subject of the poem.
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